Celebrity fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee on Sunday offered an apology after he faced backlash online for his “overdressed women” post on Instagram.
Earlier this week, he shared a post on the photo sharing platform. “If you see a woman overdressed, caked with make-up, armoured with jewellery, it is most likely that she is wounded,” he wrote, and a lot of social media users were furious. Some called it “ridiculous” and others questioned who was handling his social media accounts.
Sabyasachi used the same platform to issue an apology.
He began by saying: “I thought a lot about whether to post this, but sometimes it is important to set the record straight and get the right message across. Having been in the fashion industry for over 20 years, I have encountered it first-hand and commented about it in many of my interviews — how, while many women use fashion and beauty for joy and self-expression, others use it as ‘retail therapy’ to fill in the gaps and voids in their lives.”
He also pointed out that we, as a society, often get extremely judgemental about peoples’ clothing choices, calling them ‘overdressed’ or ‘tacky’ or ‘inappropriate’.
“We fail to understand that maybe some are using these as coping mechanisms to put on a brave front to make up for the lack of a support system,” he wrote.
The true essence of the post, he said, was to ask people to be aware, empathetic and not judgemental of peoples’ personal clothing choices, which could be a manifestation of their internal anguish.
“One of the bigger issues in society today, that very few people address, is mental health, and a little bit of awareness, empathy and kindness go a long way in acknowledging it,” wrote Sabyasachi.
Talking about his personal life, he shared: “I have coped with crippling depression as a teenager for seven years. I found my coping mechanism through radical clothing choices. I was sneered at and bullied, but it helped me find my way again.”
“When I was creating this jewellery collection, I referred to [Rabindranath] Tagore’s ‘Monihara’ because it talks about these issues, which are sadly more relevant today. And I, for one, have never shied away from speaking about uncomfortable truths, no matter how disruptive it might be for my personal gain.
“Because when power is given, social responsibility should not be shunned. The mistake, however, was to use the reference as a blanket statement, as sometimes when we are passionate about an issue, we end up becoming overzealous and hence, tone deaf.
“My sincere apologies for that.”
“The original post (however flawed) was put up to invite introspection and debate about how love, sensitivity and compassion, alongside expressions of art, beauty and fashion can create a net positive in the world. I invite everyone to democratically join this debate,” he concluded.